Athletes smile and embrace after receiving their medals 

School Partnership Program


Read two heartfelt stories from parents of athletes competing through the School Partnership Program.

•  Jennifer Medina (2013)
•  Vanessa Walters (2010)

About the Program

Special education students score goals, hit game-winning baskets, and break through finish-line tape with their arms wide open during Special Olympics Southern California’s school competitions.

The events, though, aren’t just about competing in track and field, soccer and basketball. They are about fun, acceptance and courage.

The competitions are part of Special Olympics Southern California’s School Partnership Program. The goal of the program is to create sporting events and activities that encourage youth participation, inclusion and leadership in local schools. Special Olympics is proud to partner with numerous schools and districts in Southern California.

Encouraging inclusion and participation

Special Olympics Southern California's School Partnership Program encourages inclusion, participation, and leadership in students through the power of sport. The partnership introduces sports to special education students with practices and competitions at the schools. This clip is part of the 2010 One-Hour Special that aired on KTLA and was created by ProAngle Media.

Through the support of foundation grants, Special Olypmics Southern California is able to provide these activities including sports equipment and uniforms, coach/teacher training and support, and printed and electronic resources.

Special Olympics Provides
  • Teacher/Coach sport-specific training
  • Sports equipment
  • Uniforms
  • Competition opportunities
  • Transportation to competitions
  • Printed and electronic sports resources
Schools/Districts Provides
  • Students
  • Teachers/volunteers
  • Adapted PE/classroom time for training
  • Insurance for activities (training & competition)

Sports Training

The training portion of the program allows the school/district to choose any sport Special Olympics Southern California currently offers. Currently, the majority of existing school programs participate in soccer for fall semester and track & field for the spring semester. These sports ensure opportunities for students of all abilities.

Competition Opportunities

Through competitions, the program provides a venue for special education students to show off their talents and cheer on their friends.

School Games Photos

Watch special education students compete in the Los Angeles Unified School District (Valley) games.

Competitions include smaller events, such as scrimmages or league play between a couple of schools, or a larger school games event, involving an entire district or multiple schools. These events are coordinated and conducted by Special Olympics Southern California staff in connection with school teachers, administrators and corporate volunteers.

The program isn't just about winning. It teaches understanding to the students’ peers and community by pairing special education students with a partner during some of the events.

Project UNIFY

Special Olympics Southern California School Partnership Program is also part of Project UNIFY, a year-long U.S. national project that is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Project UNIFY's goal is to activate youth around the country in an effort to develop school communities where all young people are agents of change - fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities by utilizing the programs and initiatives of Special Olympics. Project UNIFY initiatives include a host of core activities, both on the national and the grassroots level.

How you can participate

The School Partnership Program is a success thanks to the many volunteers who help manage the events and cheer on the athletes. Support our athletes by giving the gift of your time and talents or donating to our cause.


Ruby Guerrero

Thank You to Our Sponsors

LA84Project Unify

Created by the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation. Authorized and Accredited by
Special Olympics, Inc. for the Benefit of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities.

© 2008 - 2010 Special Olympics Southern California